When I was sixteen, and studying for my Home Economics O’ Level, (how twee does that sound?) one of the recipes we tackled was a chocolate and coffee tart. I can still remember learning how to crimp the edges ‘Paul Hollywood’ style and scoffing the lot with my friends after the class. What I told my mother when I arrived home empty handed I do not know. However, it was the first time I had tasted the combination, and although it was probably instant coffee and Bournville, (which btw, Mary Berry swears by, so maybe I shouldn’t be so sniffy!) and I was hooked. I had only really eaten coffee as a flavouring in a coffee and walnut cake, habitually made every year for my father’s birthday – (strangely served with Maltesers on the side), but coffee creams rapidly became my preferred chocolate choice, taking over from the less classy strawberry, and reflecting my increasingly sophisticated tastes!
A couple of days ago I was intent on making some Brownies using Nespresso coffee when I discovered my chocolate stash empty. Practically every time I shop I throw a couple of bars in my trolley so that I never run out, so I was upset with myself (or should that be my thieving husband…) for letting supplies run dry. What I did find however, stuck under a bar of unwanted Bailey’s truffle (anyone?) was a slab of white chocolate. I confess I don’t often cook with white chocolate. Not only do I find it a bit sickly, but it’s also really hard to work with – melting to a thicker and more intransigent consistency than dark chocolate. However, beggars can’t be choosers, and I figured I wouldn’t be melting it in isolation, so I had a search for coffee and white chocolate brownies and found a fabulous recipe on Vintage Kitchen Notes via A Culinary Journey – thank you Paula! Even better, the white chocolate was not melted but chopped into chunks, caramelising slightly in the baking, which gave these brownies (or strictly Blondies) a gorgeous fudgy texture. They were such a roaring success, that know the recipe will become a regular of mine, so allow me to share it (slightly adapted to what I had to hand) with you now:
INGREDIENTS: Serves 8
100ml Espresso Coffee
180g granulated sugar (gives that thin crispy sheen on top)
180g dark molasses sugar
180g unsalted butter
2 lg eggs, beaten
30ml coffee liqueur (I didn’t have any so I guess it’s optional)
240g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
140g good quality white chocolate, chopped into various size chunks
100g coarsely chopped pecans (or walnuts), toasted.
– Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade (350 F)
– Butter a 10-inch cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
– Prepare the Espresso coffee and combine coffee and water in a small saucepan and stir until dissolved.
– Over a low heat, add sugar and butter and stir until butter melts. Turn off heat and let mixture cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. You can transfer it to a bowl to speed it up. It’s important to let it cool so that the chocolate doesn’t melt when you add it.
– Add eggs and coffee liqueur to butter mixture and whisk to combine.
– Sift flour, baking powder and salt directly onto butter mixture and stir to blend.
– Stir in chocolate and nuts.
– Bake until a tester comes out almost clean, about 35 minutes. Do not over bake or they will be tough. Do not use a square pan like me – it really needs to be a 10 inch tray bake, or your brownies will be a bit dry at the side and undercooked in the middle as the mixture will be too deep.
– Cool in pan on a wire rack (see the dry vs squidgy areas?)
In spite of my pan error, they tasted amazing, and I scooped up the undercooked brownie and stirred it through some vanilla ice cream (300ml double cream, 150 ml full fat milk, 150g icing sugar and I tsp vanilla extract if you have an ice-cream maker).
Can you believe I shot this ice-cream and then put it back into the freezer? It was only 9am however, and I was still intent on making today a ‘good’ day. . It’s now 4pm and I have failed; in the last hour alone I have consumed 1.5 slabs of the brownie and I can’t be sure how long the other half is going to survive…..
Any favourite coffee pairings you want to share?